In the heart of the Western Ghats of India, nestled amidst the majestic mountain ranges of Maharashtra, lies an enigmatic location that has been rightfully dubbed as “The Great Canyon of Maharashtra.” This is the Sandhan Valley, a marvel of nature that combines serene beauty, adrenaline-pumping adventure, and a sense of tranquillity that is seldom found elsewhere. In this article, we embark on a fascinating journey of discovery, exploring all the wonders that this captivating valley has to offer.
What is Sandhan Valley (Great Canyon of Maharashtra)
Sandhan Valley, fondly known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Maharashtra’, is a unique combination of a gorge and a valley. Carved by the relentless forces of nature over millions of years, it boasts of clear-cut rock faces that rise ominously on either side, with a narrow trail snaking through the middle. The valley itself is about 200 feet deep and extends over a distance of around 2 kilometers.
What makes Sandhan Valley special is its mesmerizing landscape that changes with the seasons. During the monsoon, the valley comes alive with gurgling streams and vibrant flora, while in the summers, it becomes a tranquil desert-like setting, making you feel like you’ve stepped into another world. It is a haven for adventurers and nature lovers alike, offering a unique experience that is sure to leave you spellbound.
Where in the World is Sandhan Valley?
Sandhan Valley is located in the Indian state of Maharashtra, more precisely in the Ahmednagar district. It is part of the Western Ghats, a mountain range that stretches across the west coast of the country. It is nestled amidst the Bhandardara region, a popular trekking destination known for its scenic beauty and rich biodiversity.
The valley is located about 180 kilometers from Mumbai, making it a convenient weekend getaway for city dwellers seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life. Its remote location, away from the trappings of modern civilization, adds to its allure, making it a perfect place to reconnect with nature.
How to reach Sandhan Valley?
Reaching Sandhan Valley can be quite an adventure in itself. If you’re coming from Mumbai, you can take a train to Kasara, and then hire a shared taxi or private cab to Samrad village, the starting point of the trek to the valley. Alternatively, if you’re travelling from Pune, you can take a bus or train to Igatpuri and then proceed in the same manner.
Alternatively, if you’re traveling by car from Mumbai, head towards Igatpuri. Once you reach Igatpuri, continue your journey to Samrad by road. This option offers flexibility and the opportunity to explore the beautiful countryside of Maharashtra on your way to the valley.
Once you reach Samrad village, you will need to embark on a trek to reach the valley. The trek itself is relatively moderate and can be completed in about 5 hours. However, it is recommended to have a local guide or be part of a group, as the trail can be quite tricky to navigate, especially for first-time trekkers.
Activities in The Great Canyon of Maharashtra
Sandhan Valley is not just about trekking, it offers a variety of activities for the adventure enthusiast. You can indulge in rappelling down some of the massive rock faces. The valley also provides opportunities for camping under the starlit sky, a truly magical experience.
Nature enthusiasts can go bird-watching or explore the valley’s diverse flora and fauna. The monsoon season especially transforms the valley into a green paradise, making it a perfect time for nature walks and photography. The Valley also houses some natural pools and water bodies, which are perfect for a relaxing dip after a long trek.
Places to Visit in Sandhan Valley
Ratangad Fort: This is an ancient fort, around 2,000 years old, and it’s just 4.7 km away from the start of the Sandhan Valley Trek. It offers amazing views of the Sahyadri Range. The hike up to Ratangad Fort is a bit steep, which makes it even more exciting.
Nanhe Ghat Waterfalls: These waterfalls are a refreshing stop during the Sandhan Valley Trek. They’re on the way from the base camp in Bhandardara to Ratanwadi. The waterfalls look pretty with their reverse flow, and it’s a great place to take a break and enjoy nature after a long hike.
Amruteshwar Temple: This temple is 10 km away from Sandhan Valley. It’s an old Shiva temple located by the holy Pravara River. It’s looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India and attracts history enthusiasts.
How much it will cost to visit the great canyon of Mahtrashtra?
There are a few costs associated with this trek. Here are the most basic ones.
- Trek Package: When it comes to the Sandhan Valley trek package offered by operators, you can expect to pay anywhere from Rs.1600 to Rs.2000. This package usually includes guided trekking and adventure activities.
- Travel: Getting to Sandhan Valley involves some travel expenses. If you opt for a local train ticket, it will cost you around Rs.70. For those traveling from Mumbai to Bhandardara by bus, expect to pay between Rs.600 to Rs.800. Additionally, there are shared jeeps available in Kasara for around Rs.50 per person, providing a convenient mode of transportation. If you prefer a self-drive option from Mumbai to Bhandardara and back, budget approximately INR 5000 to 8000 for the round trip.
- Food: Food expenses during the trek can vary but generally range from Rs.200 to Rs.500. This cost depends on whether you choose to bring your own food or purchase meals along the way.
- Accommodation: If you plan to stay overnight in Samrad village, you can find accommodation ranging from Rs.500 to Rs.800 per night. For budget-conscious travelers, Bhandardara offers budget stays starting at Rs.1000 per night.
In summary, a Sandhan Valley trek offers a unique and thrilling experience with activities like rock climbing, rappelling, and camping. Walking through the narrow valley and spending the night under the starry sky create unforgettable memories. Be sure to budget for these expenses to make the most of your Sandhan Valley adventure.
Types of Treks and Hikes Possible in Sandhan Valley
There are two main types of treks possible in the Sandhan Valley. The first is the Full Descend Trek, which involves a complete traverse of the valley from Samrad village to Dehne village. This trek takes about two days and involves camping overnight in the valley.
The second option is the Half Descend Trek, which is shorter and easier. It takes you halfway into the valley and back, making it an ideal choice for beginners or those pressed for time. Both treks offer a unique opportunity to experience the mesmerizing beauty of the valley and its surroundings.
Things to Pack for Sandhan Valley trek
Before you embark on your trek to Sandhan Valley, make sure you’re well-equipped with the essential trekking gear. This includes sturdy shoes, a good backpack, plenty of water, snacks, and a first-aid kit. Don’t forget to carry a good quality tent if you plan to camp overnight.
Also, remember to carry warm clothes, as the temperature can drop considerably at night. Raincoats and waterproof bags are a must during the monsoon season. And last but not least, don’t forget your camera to capture the breathtaking vistas that await you.
And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the Great Canyon of Maharashtra – the Sandhan Valley. Whether you are an adventure junkie looking to quench your thirst for thrill, a nature enthusiast in search of serene beauty, or simply someone seeking respite from the mundane city life, Sandhan Valley has something for everyone. So pack your bags, lace up your boots and set off on an unforgettable journey to explore this hidden gem of nature.